Nourishing Networks SNAP (Food Stamp Challenge)
Linda Benson Reflections
First Post –June 24- 27, 2013
OMG everyone!!!! How are you all doing with the challenge?
I gotta be honest here, this whole seven day experience sucks!!! I went into this completely naive thinking I could pull this off no problem. What I failed to do was take into consideration my self-diagnosed ADD (attention deficit disorder), how much specific types of foods will affect my mood and the reality of food costs. I also realized how addicted and dependent I am on caffeine. Yikes!
Day 1: Monday: Had a dismal night of sleep Sunday night due to some work-related pressures so I woke up unrested and realized I would not be able to have my “cheering-up” cup(s) of caffeine that I would normally run for. Instead, I microwaved a packet of instant oatmeal (with brown sugar included), poured a little milk on it from my one-quart plastic allotment for the week and grumpily ate it. Feeling rather sorry for myself because I had to drink water for breakfast and was unable to couple my oatmeal with strawberries, yogurt or nuts, I decided to splurge and poured 1/2 cup of milk into my normally filled juice glass and enjoyed every drop. Then I got to work.
The priority of the day was to build a presentation for potential investors of Nourishing Networks Institute. Suffice it to say, this project is one of the hardest writing/presentations I have ever prepared in my life,. The mental calories I normally need for this type of work are a lot more than what I was bringing into this project, so the timing of this challenge was not the best for me.
Insight: But then I thought about the physical and mental pressures of those who live on this every day without a choice of how much nutrition they will get to support them through their day and decided I needed to buck up.
I got started and noticed how incredibly difficult it was to focus and find the pieces of information I have been building for months, let alone, begin to put it together. After two hours, I had made some progress, but felt exhausted, so at about 9:30 I went back into the kitchen and microwaved another packet of oatmeal. This brought my breakfast supply down to 8 packets to get me through the next 6 days. I figured I could manage that. The extra oatmeal and milk helped, but I realized that 1/3 of my quart of milk was now gone and kind of fretted over that. Then went back to work.
I had a meeting scheduled for noon with a colleague, but my attitude was abysmal and my head was pounding, so at 10:00, I called and cancelled. She was very gracious.
I went back to my writing and worked until about 1:30 when I realized my mental tank was on empty. I went to the kitchen, toasted one of my 8 whole wheat hamburger buns (which was cheaper than a loaf of bread) and stirred up some tuna w/mayo. I would normally pile on lettuce and include some chopped up pickles but of course, those were now luxuries I couldn’t afford, so I ate my tuna sandwich and a handful of carrots. (I found 2 lbs for $2 at QFC for which I am very grateful.) No afternoon diet coke for me and no snack.
My husband got home at about 6:00 and interrupted my writing which had been a frustrating experience all afternoon. I would normally stop and give him a hug and kiss, but my reaction was very negative and I responded with a curt, “Can’t you see, I’m busy.” When I realized what I had just said, I stopped and just stared at him. I half apologized and then told him that I was just exhausted and frustrated. I figured dinner would help. He was very supportive, bless his heart.
I browned a pound of hamburger (put the remaining ¼ lb in freezer for a hamburger later in the week), dumped a bottle of cheap spaghetti sauce in, boiled some noodles and ate alone. Craved just a little bit of milk, but settled for water. I figured I would have enough leftovers from that batch of spaghetti for three more dinners which at the moment didn’t make me very happy since I love variety. Anyway, my plan was to keep working, but I was seriously mentally impaired and rather foul-tempered and decided to just go to bed. I’m serious. I went to bed at 6:45pm. The last time I did that was when I was 4 years old.
I won’t bore you with the details of the following days, but mental state has improved; yay me!! Here are a few highlights:
- On Tuesday, I broke down and had a cup of coffee from the home supply (out of bounds, I know). I knew I needed to figure out how to pay for it with remaining funds, so I went shopping to figure out how cheaply I could get some ground coffee — anything. The cheapest was a can of “Pantry Essentials” coffee for $3.49. I bought it along with some vanilla ice cream for $1.59 (there wasn’t any chocolate at that price), but it brought my total week’s spending to $29.02, which left me with $1.48 for anything else I might need.
- Last night I decided that if I’m going to make it through Sunday, which I fully plan to do, I will round out the food I have already purchased for lunches & dinners with two $.69 Banquet frozen pot pies.
- If I were to skip the coffee, I could have purchased four apples (the cheapest at $1.69/lb), but the apples would just not cure the headaches. So I ended up this week being able to purchase 2 apples (which cost me $1.79) and the carrots. No other fresh stuff because it’s so much more expensive than I thought it would be. I could have forgone the ice cream, but I needed just a little something yummy. I had a cup of ice cream last night and smiled the rest of the evening!!
- I left early for a full day of meetings today and forgot to grab my lunch/dinner and carrots. I broke down and bought what I could have cooked from my supplies at home (hamburger on a bun). I have to confess that I also spent an extra buck on french fries, which cuts into one of my Banquet frozen pot pies. That’s a dilemma I’m going to have to confront since I now don’t have enough for all dinners or lunches that are left. One of my ideas is to, of course, just skip a couple of meals which is not a huge deal for me because I do it quite frequently out of scheduling conflicts, or find a soup kitchen. Pretty interesting, huh?
First four day of insights:
- My focus on food this week is ridiculous. I’m constantly worried about my food supply and about overspending, which means I’m forever rethinking my plans. It’s nuts!!
- I “get” pan-handling!
- My new priority is NOT nutrition; it’s calories. And I’m really surprised how much this has been affecting my mood, my energy, and my mental acuity.
- I am not cut out for this, and neither is anyone else.
- I thought I had this all figured out and I didn’t. I’m pretty well educated about this issue and have been making assumptions about a lot of things that are now crushed. I am a changed person.
I will continue to share highlights from the past few days and the upcoming few, but wanted to get a report out along with a shout out of support for you!!!!!!
Please share what your experience has been like with us.
Thanks to all who are taking the Challenge with me.